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(Editor: This work of fiction was written for “Traffic Life.” More works about traffic, parking and transportation can be found at www.trafficlife.com. This is the companion website for the anthology “Traffic Life: Passionate Tales and Exit Strategies,” edited by StephanWehner.)


BY WES ALDERSON


OMETHINGWASWRONGWITH the parking structure. It hurt John’s eyeswhen he tried to look directly at it.At first glance, the gray concrete building seemed perfectly ordinary


Parking Structure 3 S


– a typical square, four-level parking structure just outside the PsychologyDepartment building of UCLA.


But on closer examination, it resembled some of the


illustrations featured in the stupid psychology book his wife, Millie, showed him.While Millie drove their big, gas-guzzling 2002 car, John sat on the passenger side. He picked up the book from the floor of the car and


thumbed at the pages. Pictures in the book showed objects whose far side somehow looked closer than their near side – impossible topology distortions. He shook his head and lay the book down. John squinted through the bug-flecked windshield at


Parking Structure 3. The top level, the fourth deck of the structure, seemed fuzzy. He needed to visit his optometrist again. It was hell getting old. He was 52, and the fringe of hair that remained on his head was graying. John wiped the sweat off his forehead in annoyance – it was


a July evening.Heatwaves shimmered fromthe pavement.Adry east wind sprang up out of nowhere and blew an assortment of old newspapers and dead oak leaves, skittering and scraping over the blacktop, up against the parking structure. The wind died, releasing its burden. The debris settled in the white flowered bushes growing along the concrete walls of the structure. Millie stopped the car just short of the entrance. John rubbed his hand over his bald head.He shuffled his feet


on the car floor in agitation. He cracked his knuckles loudly and chewed at his gray mustache. “Well, what are you waiting for? Are you going to drive in there or are you going to sit here at the entrance all evening?” Millie drew in a deep breath and sighed. “Be patient. I have


to wait for the entry arm to rise and let us in.You asked me to drive today.Want to take over now?” John said, “We’re gonna be late for yourOCDlecture – those


useless quack psychologists.” Millie put the car in parking gear and sat there. She folded


her arms and turned to glare at John. She shook her gray-haired head sadly. “Not quacks,” she said. “I’m the one who has to put up with you.” “Yes, quacks, by God,” John said, “And I’mnot compulsive.


Things just gotta be logical and orderly aroundme.” John was a Harvard Law graduate. He knew better than


everyone else. He distracted himself from his agitation by using one finger to trace triangular patterns on the back of his other


36 JULY 2010 • PARKING TODAY • www.parkingtoday.com


hand, connecting the freckles and age spotswith nice neat imagi- nary lines.All the lines formed tidy right triangles, straight out of a Euclidean geometry text. Millie simply sat there behind the steering wheel waiting.


One at a time, several cars pulled in behind them, and the driv- ers began to honk their horns. A real racket. John’s fingers began to twitch. He pointed at a hand-drawn sign. “Look, it says, For lecture,


LivingWith OCD, push entry button and go to level five. Did you even push the damned button yet?” The whir ofMillie’s electric window was the only answer.


She reached out, pushed the button and the entry armimmediate- ly rose to admit the car. John smirked. He sat in his seat grum- bling under his breath about logic, common sense, parking lot buttons, the damned people who designed them, and idiots who honked their horns. The car jerked to a sudden stop, the tires screeched on the


smooth concrete surface, and John bumped his forehead on the dash. “Ouch. Sonofa ...Why?”He rubbed his forehead and turned


toMillie. She pointed at another sign: To Go Up, First Go Down Two


Levels. John said, “Just do the deal.” “But we need to go up to level five, not down.” John scowled at her and said through clenched teeth,


Continued on Page 38


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